Supplementary Planning Document: Biodiversity Net Gain

1. About the biodiversity net gain SPD

1.1. Why is biodiversity important to planning in Buckinghamshire?

Biodiversity is a shorter way of saying Biological Diversity. The term given to “… the variety of life on Earth and the natural patterns it forms. The biodiversity we see today is the fruit of billions of years of evolution, shaped by natural processes and, increasingly, by the influence of humans. It forms the web of life of which we are an integral part and upon which we so fully depend” (Convention on Biological Diversity).

Biodiversity has a natural and intrinsic value to all life. It is important because it provides essential human services such as food production, climate change adaptation, flood regulation, crop pollination plus numerous other benefits including enhancing human mental and physical well-being. Developments, no matter how small, can provide additional biodiversity which can help link to other habitats and areas of ecological importance providing opportunity for genetic diversity across Buckinghamshire’s landscapes and beyond.

1.2. Why is biodiversity loss an issue?

Biodiversity has declined over many years as a result of human activity. In 1992, the UK government signed up to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity; this committed the UK to reverse the loss of biodiversity. Successive governments have produced plans to stem and reverse the loss of biodiversity and have committed to higher targets to achieve this reversal. Measures to protect biodiversity include laws, such as the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006) which protects species and habitats.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has also been strengthened over the years with regards to biodiversity, moving from aspiring for ‘no net loss’ of biodiversity to requiring a ‘biodiversity net gain’. This is in line with the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, and strengthened by the requirement for a minimum 10% net gain under the Environment Act (2021) and changes to the Town and Country Planning Act (1990).

1.3. About this SPD

This SPD has been produced with advice from the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Natural Environment Partnership. It sets out guidance on how biodiversity net gain can be delivered in Buckinghamshire.

The guidance is to support:

  • planning applicants to follow the national requirement to ensure their development would result in a biodiversity net gain
  • a Buckinghamshire process for achieving biodiversity should that net gain not be achievable on their development site
  • a process by which landowners can offer their land for consideration as a potential site for hosting biodiversity net gain than cannot be met on a development site

This document has been produced to provide guidance in support of the following development plans and national guidance. The policies are provided in full in Appendix 1.

The Development Plan for Buckinghamshire
Development Plan Policy References Policy References
Neighbourhood Plan Made Neighbourhood Plans form part of the Buckinghamshire Development Plan – the coverage of these plans is increasing – also refer to the policies in these plans when developing your planning application.
Chiltern Core Strategy 2011 Policy CS24: Biodiversity
South Bucks Core Strategy 2011 Core Policy 9: Natural Environment
Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan 2013-2033 NE1: Biodiversity and Geodiversity
Wycombe Local Plan 2019 Policy CP7: Delivering the Infrastructure to Support Growth
Policy CP10: Green Infrastructure and the Natural Environment
DM34: Delivering Green Infrastructure and Biodiversity in Development
Delivery and Site Allocations Plan for Town Centres and Managing Development 2013 DM11 Green Networks and Infrastructure
DM13 Conservation and enhancement of sites, habitats and species of biodiversity and geodiversity importance.
DM14: Biodiversity in Development
Buckinghamshire Minerals and Waste Local Plan Policy 18: Natural Environment
Policy 21: Green Belt
Policy 24: Environmental Enhancement
Policy 25: Delivering High Quality Restoration and Aftercare